Teri’s take: Chipotle’s culture hunters, Sally Beauty’s ambassador program, & more
The article: UGC is Dead. Now What Are Brand Partners to Do?
For brands that don’t have a dedicated fan base, a call for user-generated content in 2020 and beyond won’t have the same result. When there is no clear incentive for users to share content, they’re less likely to do so. Audiences are more likely to share valuable brand content if they have high brand affinity for a particular company. To build a successful partnership program, it’s all about creating authentic connections with a fan or creator community — being transparent with creators on budget and payment options, utilizing social listening to identify authentic fans, and testing, learning, and optimizing content to identify creators who make content that resonates with your audience.
For a long time, UGC has been a free, reactive solution to brands’ content shortage. While free UGC may be harder to come by, sourcing content from your brand fans is still an inexpensive, proactive content strategy when compared to in-house photoshoots or creative agencies. Community-generated content is genuine and purpose-driven content created by members of a brand’s community including customers, influencers, industry experts, employees, and more that compels someone to think, feel, act, and share. It’s a powerful tool that can create an ecosystem of relatable stories that help amplify your brand message. And the best part: unlike UGC you can have a hand in the quality and message behind the content by creating genuine relationships with your brand advocates.
Sally Beauty recently launched SallyCrew, a group of stylists and DIY influencers who serve as ambassadors for the company. As part of the partnership, the four-person crew will have access to exclusive products and events, spokesperson opportunities, and features on Sally Beauty’s social channels and marketing materials. Carolyne Guss, Sally Beauty’s VP of Marketing, emphasized that the ambassadors “are not just beauty influencers,” but rather experts in the categories of hair color, textured hair, and nails. She elaborated, “The SallyCrew is made up of moms, professional stylists, at-home gurus and women that love beauty. They built their individual followings by giving real advice, sharing authentic stories, and creating content that makes beauty accessible.”
The industry is moving away from on-off campaigns with influencers to prioritize long-term relationships with brand ambassadors. Why? Because long-term relationships give ambassadors the opportunity to embody the brand in a way that does not come off as transactional to consumers. In order to build out a successful program, ambassadors should be hand-picked by the brand based on their passion for the products, not their follower count. For more information on building, managing, and measuring an ambassador program, check out our free Ambassador Academy.
The article: How Chipotle’s ‘culture hunters’ are capturing fans
While it’s been a tough year for the restaurant industry, Chipotle has seen its digital sales more than triple and it’s set to exceed $2.5 billion this year, which is more than double last year’s total. The key to it all has been listening to customers and empathizing with their needs. Marketing executive Tressie Lieberman explained, “We refer to our team as culture hunters. They’re out there understanding what’s happening in the world, what people are saying about our brand, and making sure that they’re extremely clear on what we stand for to come up with ideas that will resonate with our community.”
Now more than ever, consumers want to do more than just purchase products. They want to connect with like-minded consumers and the brands that they support. Chipotle is an amazing example of a brand that prioritizes community building rather than sales. By cultivating a strong sense of belonging amongst your brand fans through digital events, rewards programs, and partnerships with on-brand ambassadors, you increase brand loyalty, customer LTV, and retention in the long run.